You Have a Choice

life_happens_wonderfully_1sYou Have a choice

Job, in the Bible’s Book of Job, you may or may not recall, was successful, went broke but despite everything would not blame God. The story makes for strange and wonderful reading and might surprise you if you take time out to read it.

Life’s not easy and some still ponder ”Is life, with all its worries, worth living?”  The sad, sad, toll of youth suicide shows those who don’t think so and give up early.  It really depends on what we see as important in life – our values. The Christian looks at the life of Jesus and what he promised because Jesus Iived it too. He walked dusty roads; He became tired; He shared friendships; He saw sickness. He saw Lazarus die and wept for him and his sisters. He suffered but, before being crucified, still said to God, “…not my will but Yours”.  And again, “In My Father’s house are many mansions. I go to prepare a place for you.” So, for the believer in Jesus, the message simply is, “Hang in there”.

Blind George Matheson (1842-1906) believed in Jesus despite his blindness and at the end of it was still able to say about his Lord in a now famous hymn,

O love that will not let me go

I rest my weary soul in Thee,

I give Thee back the life I owe

That in Thine ocean depths its flow

May richer fuller be.

 He believed in the Bible’s promises and hung in to the end. A bit like Job, really.

Is this the kernel of the matter? Do we have to ask ourselves, “Do we really and truly believe in the promises of God in the Bible?”  The promises of Jesus in the New Testament? Do they give a different perspective on or understanding of suffering and the ups and downs of life? Is that why so many people seemed to reach out to a seemingly caring Princess Diana and to Mother Teresa, who identified with the rejected and cared about them? Did they both, in some way, show Love being active in the world?  Or has our “religion” become hereditary and a habit? Do we, in fact, fall in with the crowd and choose Pride and Power rather than humility and service to others?

But, you might remember, Jesus rejected Pride and Power at the beginning of His ministry and asserted that the darkness of a seemingly futile born-live-die cycle for …nothing… was not the case.  His promise was simple – “Believe in Me and you shall not die but have everlasting Life.” He showed the way by caring for others during His life. So caring for one another is the hallmark of following Him. Loving others is the way to show you have Love in you – the real purpose of Life. God can use those who have love in them but His Love cannot flow through those who don’t.

Jesus, the Son of Love itself – God, came back from the dead at Easter.

St Peter saw Him. Mary saw Him. 500 others saw Him as well as others. They said, “It was no myth; we saw Him.”

So there’s a choice – a Life of Hope through belief in Jesus and following Him or — a seemingly purposeless life which inevitably ends in Death – for what purpose? What’s your choice?  If you wish to, talk to your minister/priest about the above or get in touch with Rev. Paul Seiler at St Paul’s. (SM)

I told you so!

by SM

I Told You So!

“We use Christianity as a shield but do nothing to maintain it or practise it” – from @Anthony in The Australian 12/8/16. Well, 40 years ago I wrote  in a Church paper:

 

1.“O.K. So don’t go to Church. But don’t be too upset when the humanists look at what they see as the museums of an ignorant People’s beliefs, the Churches, empty – and decide that we don’t count any longer. When that comes and it’s not so far away in fact, then you’ll really see some action from them. In the words of the classic, you won’t have seen anything yet.

 

  1. O. K. So don’t go to church and watch your Sand Castle of Civilisation as you know it being washed away bit by bit as the tide of Humanism comes in. Alone you won’t stop it (but) standing on the rock of which Jesus spoke, the future is His. Rocks don’t melt away.

 

  1. O.K. So don’t go to church but you won’t be able to take the benefits of the so-called Christian society any longer because we won’t be able to influence anyone anymore. Christians will be known only to each other, living for the most part silent in a pagan world again.”

 

So society did change! Even blind Freddie could see it coming. Strange that church  people didn’t as Sunday school attendances were falling rapidly in the 1960s. Where were the kids? Out playing football. Can you blame them? No, but you can say that their non-active parents were not Christian oriented because they had not been required by their parents to understand what being a Christian really meant.  So they did not have a faith which made them want to  serve Him actively.  Yes, it’s true, many in the Church were  busy  but did not see how Society was changing nor did they appreciate the need to communicate the meaning of the Crucifixion and the Resurrection in a changing society and its changing words. So now we have the Humanists and others recommending the following to a mainly unchurched population:

 

#If you don’t go to church put “No religion” on your census form.” / # The 1899 Queensland Act forbidding abortion should be repealed as it is archaic. /# Same-sex marriage should be accepted as normal./ #Cross dressing should be accepted as normal and a male wearing a dress should have access to female toilets. /#That homosexuality is a normal fact of life be taught in schools. There are more tidbits to drag out of the humanist pie but that will do.

 

Is that the pagan (godless) Society you want? Well, do nothing and it will undoubtedly come about.   But —  what if you don’t want that for yourself and your children or your grandchildren?

 

Well, you’ll have to strengthen the Church by becoming actively Christian. When we have enough Christians in society there will be more Christians everywhere with Christian expectations of behaviour and especially in Parliament to help make laws with wisdom. How do you become a Christian? Easy – really believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God whose life was exchanged for your sins/wrongdoings and imperfections thus making you perfect in the sight of God.  And ask God to make you the sort of person you really should be. 

 

It’s really time to act so strengthen the shield referred to above!  Speak  to any minister or priest in any Church about this article. Don’t put it off – just do it. (SM)

Answers to the BIG Questions

by SM

In years long past, Presbyterian Sunday Schools inculcated Christian knowledge by memory-learning from what was called the Shorter Catechism from the Church’s Confession of Faith. Curiously, no student suffered brain damage from such an exercise and, surprisingly, remembered much of what was learned into old age. Furthermore, it provided a sure foundation for members of the Church when fulfilling appointments as elders, managers and teachers. Some questions and answers based on the 107 of the Shorter Catechism follow – using modern language to come to grips with what’s in them.

What is the main and highest purpose for a human being?

The main and highest purpose that anyone can have is to glorify God and fully enjoy Him forever.

Where can we find an authoritative guide to do this?

The only source we can rely on is contained in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible.

What is God?

God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in His being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth. St. Paul says we live and move and have our being in Him.

Are there more Gods than one?

There is but One only, the living and true God.

How many persons are there in the Godhead?        

Three. We know God as God the Father, as God in Jesus Christ his Son, and as God in the Holy Spirit or as Jesus called Him – the Comforter  – whom Jesus promised to send to all believers to lead and guide them.

What is sin?

God is a God of order and His laws promote orderliness and good living. Sin is committed and promotes disorder by disrupting right relationships with others and with God by the absence of love and courtesy we show towards others in our behaviour, actions and attitudes.

How are we brought into a right relationship with God?

By accepting that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, when crucified, offered His own life in expiation (wiping out) of our sins. In short we are pardoned when we so believe.

How was Christ exalted as a result?

In His rising again from the dead on the third day, in ascending into heaven and in sitting on the right hand of God, the Father, and in His coming to judge the world at the last day. His resurrection confirmed His status and promises to us.

What is the result for us?

Because of God’s free grace and the righteousness of Christ when we place our faith in Him, in who He was and what He did, our sins are pardoned and we are adopted by God as His son or daughter.

What follows from this?

We gain an assurance of God’s love, peace of conscience, joy in the Holy Spirit, an increase of God-given grace, and perseverance in all this to the end.           

What happens at death?

The souls of believers are perfected in holiness and pass to glory. Their bodies, united to Christ, rest in the grave till the resurrection when they are raised in glory, openly acknowledged, and acquitted in the day of judgment. They are perfectly blessed and fully enjoy God to all eternity.

If you wish to pursue this further talk with your minister, pastor or priest. [SM]

Same Sex Marriage and the Eternal Wrestle with Words

Same Sex Marriage and The Eternal Wrestle with Words

The offerings in this section are never political. The Christian life is open to those who seek it.

Something is projected shortly, though, which could change the organisation of society as we know it and which organisation derives from the Judaeo-Christian ethic. As a result you might want to think about what follows.

The pro-homosexual “marriage” lobby is about to start its media campaign to redefine the meaning of the word “marriage”. But by being redefined so will our perception of marriage and what it means  be changed and, if you like, destroyed. Let me explain.

Necessarily a word does not exist by itself. It has connotations. Take the words “Test” match. We know immediately without saying it that we mean a cricket match for the Ashes between England and Australia and all that goes with it. And so with the word “marriage”.

To change the meaning of a word is to change the word’s connotations and, apart from anything else, any values implied. The end result of doing this cannot be foreseen. Hitler did it with his words the soft sounding “final solution” and thus redefined the murdering of Jewish people. And what a change that was. Hence, if you set a precedent by changing word meaning or usage, things change and the way is opened for other words to be redefined with more change. But why? Our language is flexible and can always find new words to use instead of changing the meaning of current words. Look at “sputnik” and “networking” and “e-mail”.

The word “marriage” as we know it, if redefined, could be changed forever.  And redefining will change the social organising of people implied in the word “marriage”. The arrangement of couples – what is called “marriage” as such – arose to ensure stability and order in the way people lived and brought offspring into being. It also ensured responsibility in those undertaking it. Some variations developed such as extended families but the basic unit remained the same – the permanent joining of a man plus a woman – wherein lay the potential beginning of a child’s birth  by a couple necessarily of different sexes. This arrangement was called “marriage.” It’s an old word; a word understood by all; a word embracing and foreshadowing new lives. A word with many connotations.

And “marriage” is the beginning point of another word used for centuries – “families”. A family has been the accepted pattern constituting the social organising of a nation – its founding arrangement if you like. Hence the consequences of changing Marriage laws in Australia means more than changing a description of a state existing between two people. Those consequences also have the effect of changing social organisation and, with its connotations, the word “marriage”. Changed to what? And what replaces the existing connotations?

Hence, if the present connotations of the word “marriage” – implied from time immemorial – are changed there has to be an effect on society – including children. And so will any redefinition arising from so-called “discrimination'” if that is given as the reason for effecting a change of meaning.

If homosexual couples want legal recognition for unisex coupling that’s fine, – that’s their choice. But why not find a word to describe that union other than by “marriage”?  They can be legally “coupled”, “joined”, “yoked”, “locked”, “paired”, “linked”, or “connected”.

Whatever word chosen would  be soon used as easily as the word “gay” which once meant, in common usage, bright and happy, light hearted and carefree. And the word chosen would have the connotation of a same sex couple. Or don’t the gays want their sameness implied in their coupling word as heterosexuals do at present in the word “marriage”? Marriage presently means different sexes so is change wanted in present connotations and perceptions? And if so why? Interestingly “gay” seems to have been revived, knowingly or unknowingly, from a word used about 1637 when it had, as described in the Oxford English Dictionary, a meaning with overtones of  “immoral”.

It may well be that changing the accepted connotations of “marriage” could well produce confused perceptions in society at large and among children in particular. And, in the forthcoming debate, if that is not considered the debate will really have proceeded from an unrecognised premise by ignoring the connotations which society at large sees and accepts when attached to the word “marriage”. And there are too many to be discarded to suit the desires of a section of the whole society.

Think about this and, if inclined, speak to your local federal member of Parliament and make your concerns known by interview, e-mail or letter. I suggest it matters.

Over to you.


 [SM]

The Bird that Flew Away

The Bird that Flew Away

by SM

A young man visiting a church heard the priest talking about the entry of sin into human life – that is, when Adam disobeyed God. The priest then said that every human being was a sinner, not only by inheritance from Adam, but also by his/her own personal will and, thus, every human has disobeyed God. At the end of the sermon, the young man went to him saying, “I do not need the redemption of Christ on the cross in order to please God, because I’m not a sinner. I haven’t disobeyed God as Adam did!”

After Church, by invitation, he went to the priest’s house and waited as the priest laid the dining table with delicious foods. Then, the priest put a big dish covered with a large silver lid in the centre of the table and said to the young man: “I need to go out for ten minutes, but start eating. Just don’t touch the dish in the centre of the table; leave that for me!”  For a few minutes the young man enjoyed some of the dishes then curiosity took hold of him. All he could think about was the dish in the centre of the table. What could be so good that the priest doesn’t even want me to touch it, he thought.

Cautiously he lifted the lid and to his surprise a beautiful bird flew out and perched on the chandelier above the table. The startled young man immediately jumped up on the table, trying to catch the bird, but as it flew out an open window he slipped, fell on the plates, broke them, and spilled food all over the chairs and on to the floor. Suddenly the door opened and in walked the priest.

Shamefacedly the young man immediately said: “I am not better than Adam. I disobeyed as he did, but more so, because I did not pay attention!” The priest replied: “The bird is a symbol of peace with God. I was going to give you that bird as a present if you actually proved that you are better than Adam. But now, there is a greater gift to come, the greatest gift; not from me, but from God. Christ has already paid with His life for your sins and all that you have destroyed in your life and around you. He is ready to grant you His Holy Spirit to renew your life and please Him by the gift of God’s strength and grace. All you have to do is accept Him and ask for it. What do you think of that?”

Yes, the young man did confess how he needed God’s forgiveness, and, having accepted Jesus into his life went from the priest’s house a “New Person” with his soul renewed. May this story help you to read and understand the Bible and God’s Love. (Edited to fit the page and reprinted from St Paul’s Antiochian Orthodox Church, Brisbane, with appreciation). Discuss this further with your minister, pastor or priest if you wish. [SM].

The-Merry-Go-Round

The Merry-Go-Round 

by SM

In this modern world with its problems there are some people who have lost hope, other people doubting and some who hope regardless. And their concerns? For some it’s climate change.  For many threats from disaffected immigrants, ebola in Africa, starvation in too many countries, and, yes, even slavery. Refugees in many numbers in camps wait seemingly forever to move on, while political feuds, fanatics in Iraq, power strugglers in Syria and other issues and unmentioned worries are concerns day by day of others.  So are we being targeted specially in our time? Are we really meant to be getting it by the bucketful? Well, read this – written by Bishop George Berkeley, Bishop of Cloyne and a famously brilliant British philosopher. He wrote it in 1721.

“I know it is an old folly to make peevish complaints of the times, and charge the common failures of human nature on a particular age.  One may nevertheless venture to affirm that the present has brought forth new and portentous villainies, not to be paralleled in our own or any other history. We have been long preparing for some great catastrophe. Vice and villainy have by degrees grown reputable among us; our infidels have passed for fine gentleman, and our venal traitors for men of sense who knew the world. We have made a jest of public spirit, and cancelled all respect for whatever our laws and religion repute sacred.  The old English modesty is quite worn off, and instead of blushing for our crimes we are ashamed only of piety and virtue. Our symptoms are so bad that, notwithstanding all the care and vigilance of the legislature, it is to be feared the final period of our State approaches”.

So it’s not new. Interestingly enough Wesley followed some years later and brought about a great revival and re-interest in Christianity. People flocked to Church. That was the end of that period of woe.

But what to do when we are in the middle of trouble with little light for our own way? Let’s see what happened even earlier and how people coped.

The Bible writer, Ecclesiastes has this to say about life some thousands of years before Berkeley.   He may not be famous but he does know a thing or two.  There is a wryness, at times, about his observations which ring true.  Consider these-

“Wisdom is better than weapons of war, often a single error spoils good strategy. A poisonous fly makes perfume putrid”:

“Man knows not what is to be: who can tell him what happens when he is gone?”

“Take shares in several ventures; you never know what will go wrong in this world.”

“Remember your Creator when you are young, before evil days come…(and before)… the day when the silver cord is snapped, and the golden lamp drops broken,… when your dust returns to Earth once more, and your spirit to God who gave it.”

He argues that all  human effort ultimately  is negated by death; to labour for great  riches to leave after death to others is ridiculous; that few are remembered after death by their good works and, in a way,  all  human effort is  temporary, unremembered and therefore vain. His final words might even be confirmed by the lack of detailed knowledge in our own families about the daily lives of those who preceded us –  their sufferings and their joys. Read him for yourself – it’s easy reading.  So what gives meaning to our lives?  Simply that Christ came from the Beyond, from God, and promised that where He was going when he left the Earth was where he would take all those who believed in Him to be with him after they died. He even said to the thief on the cross beside him that the thief that day would be in Paradise with him. Jesus was acknowledging that the thief recognised a goodness which did not deserve punishment and He was merciful.

Can any of this help you to cope? Berkeley with his measuring the world against his faith and making an assessment? Ecclesiastes with his acceptance of mortality and his always remembrance of God? Or the hope that Christ gives us all if we believe?   If you would understand more discuss this with your minister, pastor or priest.